Best of 2016: ‘Stranger Things,’ ‘The Americans,’ and Our Favorite TV Shows

Best Albums of 2016
Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Kanye West, and more make appearances on our list.

Though 2016 was in many ways a difficult year (though not when it came to new music), at least we were able to find comfort through television.

We, the staff of your favorite website (don’t tell us if that isn’t accurate), compiled a list of our favorite TV shows from the last year. Old favorites (Game of Thrones, The Americans) still got our pulses racing, and a host of new shows (Stranger Things, The Night Of, Atlanta) made big impressions. Whether you like laugh-out-loud comedies or dark dramas, there’s something on this list for everyone. (Unless, like, you’re one of those weird people who doesn’t like TV.)  And so, without further ado, here are our 16 favorite shows from 2016. (This list is presented in no particular order.)

The Americans (FX)

The Americans continued its terrific, each-season-better-than-the-last run with a tense, powerful fourth season that saw things really start to fall apart for the Jennings family… and everyone around them. - Matt, Managing Editor

Stranger Things (Netflix)

Most people my age enjoy binge-watching series on Netflix. I am an exception to this statistic due to my short attention span, but Stranger Things kept me on a tight leash. Not only did the series scare the daylights out of me, but it offered a unique look into the mind of the child. Winona Ryder’s performance was superb, and Millie Bobby Brown has a long, long career ahead of her. I impatiently await the premiere of Season 2. – Mia, Multimedia Content Producer

Documentary Now! (IFC)

Starring Saturday Night Live alums Bill Hader and Fred Armisen, Documentary Now! is a mockumentary series that spoofs celebrated films by parodying its style. With Helen Mirren introducing a “documentary” at the beginning of each episode, the series is the perfect combination of comedy and quirk for the pop culture obsessed. Can’t stop watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi? Then you’ll definitely like its hilarious take on the food doc, “Juan Likes Rice & Chicken.” – Gabi, Senior Editor

American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson (FX)

Not only did Sarah Paulson, Courtney B. Vance, and Sterling K. Brown deliver stunning performances, but the The People v. O.J. Simpson was a perfect representation of the most notorious criminal trial in the 20th Century. The series managed to keep us in suspense despite the fact that we all know how it ends. – Natasha, Editor

Westworld (HBO)

An amusement park populated by human-like robots provides its wealthy visitors countless adventures in a Wild West setting. But the robots are beginning to malfunction. While the season was at sometimes uneven and a bit frustrating, it was always enthralling. The Emmys better take notice of the performances from Thandie Newton, Evan Rachel Wood, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright and Anthony Hopkins, because they all deserve to be nominated for their work. – Michael, Editor-in-Chief

The Fall (BBC 2 / Netflix)

After three seasons, this game of cat and mouse between Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan has just gotten better and better. Most shows about serial killers and sociopaths go big, often drifting into camp. The Fall is a bare-bones nail-biter comprised of two understated, breathtaking performances. It’s a slow burn, but the rewards are undeniable. – Scott, Editor

Atlanta (FX)

I’ve been a huge fan of Donald Glover’s work since I watched him on Community and I was thrilled to see him finally get a show of his own. Atlanta is everything that TV has been missing. It’s authentic, funny, thought-provoking, weird, and yet perfectly depicts so many life situations black people have dealt with, without trying to be the voice of all black people. - Jelani, Editor

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (The CW)

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a great example of why we’re told not to judge books by their covers. A CW show with a problematic title, a YouTuber as its star, and multiple musical numbers in each episode? No thanks, right? Wrong. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, in addition to being very funny, is wonderfully self-aware, cuttingly clever, and commendable for exploring deep emotional issues in thoughtful, creative ways. – Matt, Managing Editor

Barefoot Contessa: Cooking For Jeffrey (Food Network)

My love for Ina Garten is only rivaled by her husband Jeffrey. His cameos on The Barefoot Contessa, her cooking show, breathe life into my lungs and my heart skipped a beat when I heard that he would star in the latest installment of her Food Network series. My favorite story from the accompanying cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey, recalls their first date when an underage Ina asked Jeffrey to take her to a bar because she thought that it was a cool thing to do. Oh, Ina. – Mia, Multimedia Content Producer

Black Mirror (Netflix)

I cannot say enough good things about Black Mirror. It’s hauntingly good. Often dubbed a modern-day Twilight Zone, the anthology series focuses on the technology in our lives and the consequences that can come with our obsession with it. This season, the series tackled our constant need to be liked by our peers, cyber-bullying gone awry, and the dangers of virtual reality. Despite being known for its bleak and dark endings, it also surprisingly featured one of the most heartwarming love stories you’ll ever see in your life. (Hello, San Junipero!) Now THAT’S range you want to see in quality television. – Gabi, Senior Editor

The Night Of (HBO)

The Night Of had me hooked after the first 10 minutes and will probably go down as one of the best pilots I’ve ever seen. It has all the elements that a perfect thriller should have, including incredible cinematography. Also, actors Riz Ahmed and John Turturro are amazing. – Natasha, Editor

American Crime (ABC)

 

Unlike American Horror Story, which is all flash and gore, American Crime is rooted in harsh realities. The series thrived in its second season with a timely story about the ricocheting repercussions of wealth and privilege. The season’s point of ignition was, while at a basketball party, Taylor (Connor Jessup) is sexually assaulted by the school’s star player, Eric (Joey Pollari). The school’s headmaster, Leslie Graham (Felicity Huffman), wants the story to go away. Basketball coach Dan Sullivan (Timothy Hutton) doesn’t want to believe his kids have done anything really wrong. While the conclusion was deeply frustrating, I am still thinking about the season to this day. – Michael, Editor-in-Chief

The Crown (Netflix)

This isn’t a show I expected to love. The legacy of the Windsors is a family associated with decadence and shrouded in mystery. But Peter Morgan’s new Netflix drama aims to cast aside all the frills and instead delve into the fascinating minutiae of this family’s struggle to present strength and unity for an empire in turmoil. And it must be said: John Lithgow’s performance as a geriatric Winston Churchill is utterly captivating. – Scott, Editor

Insecure (HBO)

Issa Dee, played by Issa Rae, is insecure about her job, her relationship, her friendships, and just about everything else in her life. Because, aren’t we all? Insecure is relatable in the best way and does a masterful job of depicting real friendships, relationships, and many of the trials and tribulations of being a black woman in her late 20s. And if the season finale was any indication, season two is going to be lit AF. – Jelani, Editor

Bojack Horseman (Netflix)

In its third season, Bojack Horseman continues to be one of the most refreshing, beautiful-to-look-at, hilarious, and poignant shows of the binge-watch era. It speaks so intimately about depression and self-destruction (even when its characters don’t speak at all) while simultaneously juggling sharp jokes, quick sight gags, and a host of well-rounded characters and storylines. – Matt, Managing Editor

Game of Thrones (HBO)

When it comes to HBO shows, Game of Thrones is my Ride or Die. With only two seasons until its finale, the series, which has now moved beyond the novels in storyline, is starting to wrap up its lose ends as “winter” finally approaches. From Jon Snow and Sansa Stark reuniting after five seasons apart to Daenerys Targaryen crossing The Narrow Sea, there were too many big moments and satisfying payouts to count. R.I.P. Hodor, though. – Gabi, Senior Editor